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New Jersey Nets: What the Brook Lopez Injury Means for the Nets Going Forward

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 21:  Brook Lopez #11 of the New Jersey Nets looks to pass against the New York Knicks during their pre season game  at Madison Square Garden on December 21, 2011 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Josh BurtonContributor IIIDecember 22, 2011

Just when you thought that the New Jersey Nets had some optimism around the team, most of those positive feelings came crashing down earlier today as center Brook Lopez was diagnosed with a broken right foot he suffered in last night's preseason loss against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden..

Lopez is expected to be out for four to six weeks, which could either turn out to help or hurt the team's chances at acquiring Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard.

As terrible as it sounds, the Lopez injury could greatly help the chance that the Nets will be able to trade for Howard at some point this season, probably closer to the March trade deadline.

Lopez will be hurt until around mid-February, which means that the Nets will probably be a lottery team up until them, making the 2011 first-round pick involved in the rumored trade that much more valuable.

Receiving a potential lottery pick may force the Magic to make a move this season and get rid of Dwight when they can still get solid value for him.

As of right now, Magic GM Otis Smith has said that the team won't trade Howard until the season starts, and that looks like a given right now. 

The increase in value of the draft pick may be enough to convince Smith to make the trade at some point this season, however, it will most likely be in March, right after Lopez returns from his injury and before the trade deadline.

On the other hand, the Lopez injury could end up killing the trade proposal in its entirety. If Lopez doesn't recover fully from his injury by the March 15 trade deadline, then there is no way Otis Smith would pull the trigger on the trade and would take his chances at re-signing Dwight in the offseason. 

That wouldn't be a good situation for the Nets as it runs the chance of Deron Williams leaving the team in free agency in addition to Dwight signing with another team, like the Dallas Mavericks, who have been cutting cap space to sign him.

Of course teams never want their top players to get hurt, but Net fans shouldn't think the sky is falling because of Lopez's injury.

It's not an ideal situation for New Jersey, but it could turn out for the best in the end.

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